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Only known survivor of Yemenia Flight 626 returns home to her dad in Paris

Bahia Bakari, 12, told her mother is among the missing, is coping “in a very brave way,” a French official says.

Associated Press

Bahia Bakari, 12, told her mother is among the missing, is coping “in a very brave way,” a French official says.

LE BOURGET, France — A severely bruised young girl believed to be the only survivor of an Indian Ocean plane crash flew back Thursday to Paris, where she was embraced gently by her father, who tried to lift her spirits with a joke.

Yemenia Flight 626 crashed Tuesday morning off Comoros amid heavy winds. Bahia Bakari, 12, described by her father as a fragile girl who could barely swim, spent over 13 hours in the water clinging to wreckage before she was rescued. She was found suffering from hypothermia, a fractured collarbone and widespread bruises to her face, elbow and foot.

The other 152 people on the plane, including her mother, Aziza, are presumed dead.

Bahia's father, Kassim, met her as she arrived, saying he was relieved and overjoyed to see his daughter even as he mourned his wife.

"I took her in my arms and I embraced her, but not too strongly because her collarbone is injured," he said on a French television station.

France's cooperation minister, Alain Joyandet, who flew back with her, said Bahia was told "that her mother is missing. She is facing up to this event in a very brave way."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy attended a memorial at the main mosque in Paris for the victims Thursday evening. He said his government would organize transportation for those families of the victims who wanted to travel to the Comoros to pay homage.

Fast facts

Air France plane hit sea belly first

French crash investigators said Thursday they have determined that an Air France Airbus A330-200 that plunged from a stormy sky on June 1 was intact when it smacked belly-first into the Atlantic Ocean at high speed, killing all on board. Alain Bouillard of the French Investigation and Analysis Bureau said the 216 passengers and 16 crew on AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris were probably unaware during their final minutes that they were speeding from 35,000 feet toward the deadly crash.

Only known survivor of Yemenia Flight 626 returns home to her dad in Paris 07/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 2, 2009 10:20pm]

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